2024 Preakness Stakes start time, odds, preview: Mystik Dan in, Muth out, plus horse profiles, bet strategies

Like the middle seat on a plane or the second act in a three-act play, the Preakness Stakes suffers from not being the first or the last. It is not the most storied horse race in the country — the Kentucky Derby — the one that every trainer, owner and jockey wants to win. And it is not the Test of the Champion — the Belmont Stakes — the race that can turn a horse either into a Triple Crown champion or into a footnote.

But the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md., plays an important role in American sports. It is the bridge. It connects a Derby winner with an opportunity to become an immortal if he or she can conquer all foes at Old Hilltop.

This year the horse attempting to cross that Preakness bridge is an athletic bay colt named Mystik Dan. Two weeks ago at the Kentucky Derby, in front of more than 156,000 screaming fans, Mystik Dan rode the Churchill Downs rail like a Porsche hugging a hairpin turn and held on to win the first leg of the Triple Crown by a desperate nose. On Saturday he will try to become the first Derby champ to win the Preakness since 2018 when Justify prevailed in Baltimore in en route to becoming horse racing’s 13th Triple Crown winner.

Mystik Dan’s task of winning the Preakness was made considerably easier on Wednesday when Arkansas Derby winner Muth was scratched from the race because of a fever, according to his trainer, Bob Baffert. Muth was originally the 8-5 morning-line favorite for the Preakness. Now Mystik Dan, who was 5-2 on the morning line, will be the favorite when the horses leave the starting gate.

Though his Muth is out, Baffert will remain a key figure in this year’s Preakness. The 71-year-old trainer will make his return to the Triple Crown after not being able to run a horse in the Kentucky Derby because of his suspension at Churchill Downs. Baffert has won the Preakness a record eight times and will go for No. 9 with speedy San Felipe Stakes winner Imagination (6-1).  

Louisiana Derby winner Catching Freedom (6-1) and the lightly raced and Chad Brown-trained Tuscan Gold (8-1) round out the top four choices in the eight-horse Preakness Stakes field.

Below, we’ll take you through everything to know about this year’s Preakness, from profiles of all the horses involved to info about the race and the Road to the Preakness Stakes, to where to find official betting strategy, including win picks and exotic plays, from a host of SportsLine experts.

What to know about the 149th Preakness Stakes

  • What 149th Preakness Stakes
  • Where Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Md.
  • Who Eight 3-year-old horses
  • Purse $2 million
  • Distance 1 3/16 miles
  • Post time 7:01 p.m. ET
  • Network NBC
  • Weather forecast Overcast with a little rain; high of 66 degrees

Preakness Stakes odds

As of 8 a.m. ET Thursday. Click here for updated odds throughout the day.

  • 1 Mugatu 20-1
  • 2 Uncle Heavy 20-1
  • 3 Catching Freedom 6-1
  • 4 Muth Scratched
  • 5 Mystik Dan 5-2
  • 6 Seize the Grey 15-1
  • 7 Just Steel 15-1
  • 8 Tuscan Gold 8-1
  • 9 Imagination 6-1

SportsLine expert picks

SportsLine has three great horse racing experts who have locked in their Preakness picks. Here’s a preview of each:

Michelle Yu, an on-air host and reporter with a background training horses who has provided racing analysis for TVG, HRTV and the Breeders’ Cup, has hit the exacta in the Preakness Stakes the last two years. In 2022, she nailed Early Voting over Epicenter and last year she called National Treasure over Blazing Sevens. For this year, Yu is high on Just Steel, even though he’s a 15-1 longshot. But her top pick is another longshot who “should get a cozy trip.” Check out Yu’s full Preakness Stakes wagering strategy at SportsLine.

Gene Menez, a former reporter, editor and Triple Crown handicapper for Sports Illustrated, nailed the winner of last year’s Preakness, National Treasure. And two weeks ago he gave out Mystik Dan as a live longshot in the Kentucky Derby. For Saturday Menez is completely tossing Mystik Dan despite his Derby win. Instead Menez’s top pick is a horse who is “set up to run a career-best race.” Get Menez’s full Preakness Stakes wagering strategy at SportsLine.

Jody Demling, who has called 10 of the last 19 Preakness winners, is high on Catching Freedom, even though he’s 6-1 longshot. He is also high on a dark horse who could have a leg up on the competition because of extra rest. Find Demling’s full Kentucky Derby wagering strategy at SportsLine.

Road to Baltimore

Here are the most significant races of the Preakness Stakes trail:

Feb. 3, Southwest Stakes Mystik Dan rallied on the inside of a muddy Oaklawn Park track to win by eight lengths over Just Steel. He earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure for that effort, but many trackside observers believe he benefitted from a biased track.

Feb. 3, Withers Stakes Uncle Heavy closed from well back to win by a nose on a sloppy track at Aqueduct.

Feb. 17, Risen Star Stakes This was the best prep race on the Kentucky Derby trail as the top five runners reached the Derby. Catching Freedom rallied to run third. 

March 3, San Felipe Stakes In a weak four-horse field, Imagination outgamed stablemate Wine Me Up to win by a head.

March 23, Louisiana Derby Catching Freedom closed from last to win. Tuscan Gold hung on to finish third, less than two lengths behind.

March 30, Arkansas Derby Just Steel and Mystik Dan ran second and third respectively behind winner Muth.

April 6, Wood Memorial Uncle Heavy lost by 11 lengths to Resilience and finished fifth.

April 6, Blue Grass Stakes Mugatu (fifth) and Seize the Grey (seventh) were well beaten in a race won by Sierra Leone.

April 6, Santa Anita Derby Imagination was outgamed by Stronghold, losing by a neck.

May 4, Pat Day Mile Seize the Grey pressed a hot pace and split foes to win the mile race on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

May 4, Kentucky Derby Mystik Dan got a rail-skimming, ground-saving trip to win by a nose. Catching Freedom rallied for fourth, while Just Steel faded to 17th.

Preakness Stakes horses (morning-line odds)

1 Mugatu (20-1)

  • Trainer Jeff Engler
  • Jockey Joe Bravo
  • Last race Fifth in the Blue Grass Stakes by 7½ lengths
  • Career record 12 starts: 1 win, 1 second, 3 thirds
  • Career earnings $80,570
  • Best career Beyer Speed Figure 87 (2024 Blue Grass Stakes)
  • Sire Blofeld

Bumped from the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago as the 21st horse in the 20-horse field, Mugatu was immediately rerouted to Baltimore and will make his Triple Crown debut in the Preakness Stakes. But this modestly bred $14,000 purchase faces a daunting task if he hopes to pull off one of the most shocking upsets in Preakness history…  See full profile.

2 Uncle Heavy (20-1)

  • Trainer Robert Reid
  • Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
  • Last race Fifth in the Wood Memorial by 11 lengths
  • Career record 5 starts: 3 wins
  • Career earnings $323,580
  • Best career Beyer Speed Figure 84 (2024 Withers Stakes)
  • Sire Social Inclusion

A Pennsylvania-bred, Uncle Heavy emerged on the Triple Crown trail in February when he eked out a nose victory in the Withers Stakes. But he was not able to back up that performance in the Wood Memorial, finishing fifth by 11 lengths. On Saturday he will enter the Preakness Stakes as one of the most unlikely winners of the race, even if he does get back to his Withers form…  See full profile.

3 Catching Freedom (6-1)

  • Trainer Brad Cox
  • Jockey Flavien Prat
  • Last race Fourth in the Kentucky Derby by 1¾ lengths
  • Career record 6 starts: 3 wins, 1 third
  • Career earnings $1,127,350
  • Best career Beyer Speed Figure 97 (2024 Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby)
  • Sire Constitution

After Catching Freedom finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Brad Cox initially planned to bypass the Preakness Stakes. But with the horse galloping well at Churchill Downs last week and seemingly doing well physically, Cox decided to alter course and head to Baltimore. Now this late-running Louisiana Derby winner will get another chance to capture one leg of the Triple Crown… See full profile.

4 Muth (Scratched)

5 Mystik Dan (5-2)

  • Trainer Ken McPeek
  • Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.
  • Last race First in the Kentucky Derby by a nose
  • Career record 7 starts: 3 wins, 1 second, 1 third
  • Career earnings $3,741,360
  • Best career Beyer Speed Figure 101 (2024 Southwest Stakes)
  • Sire Goldencents

Dismissed as an 18-1 longshot in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, Mystik Dan got a rail-skimming, ground-saving trip to win the Run for the Roses by a desperate nose in a three-way photo finish. On Saturday he will attempt to win the second leg of the Triple Crown in Baltimore, and the Mystik Dan doubters already are back out in full force, dismissing his chances to win yet again…  See full profile.

6 Seize the Grey (15-1)

  • Trainer D. Wayne Lukas
  • Jockey Jaime Torres
  • Last race First in the Pat Day Mile by 1¼ lengths
  • Career record 9 starts: 3 wins, 3 thirds
  • Career earnings $619,938
  • Best career Beyer Speed Figure 88 (2024 Pat Day Mile)
  • Sire Arrogate

Trivia question: Which two horses enter the Preakness Stakes off a win? The answer: Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan and Pat Day Mile winner and 15-1 Preakness longshot Seize the Grey. The latter may not have been obvious, but Seize the Grey is in career-best form and is trained by a man who has won this race six times…  See full profile.

7 Just Steel (15-1)

  • Trainer D. Wayne Lukas
  • Jockey Joel Rosario
  • Last race 17th in the Kentucky Derby by 33¾ lengths
  • Career record 12 starts: 2 wins, 4 seconds, 1 third
  • Career earnings $724,545
  • Best career Beyer Speed Figure 95 (2024 Arkansas Derby)
  • Sire Justify

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won the Preakness Stakes six times, which is the third most Preakness wins by a trainer ever. On Saturday the 88-year-old Lukas will attempt to pull off arguably his most improbable Preakness victory ever with Just Steel, a horse coming off a 17th-place finish two weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby…  See full profile.

8 Tuscan Gold (8-1)

  • Trainer Chad Brown
  • Jockey Tyler Gaffalione
  • Last race Third in the Louisiana Derby by 1¾ lengths
  • Career record 3 starts: 1 win, 1 third
  • Career earnings $147,100
  • Best career Beyer Speed Figure 95 (2024 Louisiana Derby)
  • Sire Medaglia d’Oro

With only three races under his belt, Tuscan Gold enters the Preakness Stakes as both the least experienced horse in the race and the horse with arguably the most upside. But will Saturday be the time for this $600,000 purchase to hit the jackpot or will he need more time to show off his considerable talent?…  See full profile.

9 Imagination (6-1)

  • Trainer Bob Baffert
  • Jockey Frankie Dettori
  • Last race Second in the Santa Anita Derby by a neck
  • Career record 6 starts: 2 wins, 4 seconds
  • Career earnings $406,800
  • Best career Beyer Speed Figure 96 (2024 San Felipe Stakes)
  • Sire Into Mischief

Imagination was considered the “other Bob Baffert horse” entering Preakness week, playing second fiddle to his more heralded stablemate, Muth. But with the scratch of Muth on Wednesday, Imagination becomes Baffert’s only hope to add to his record number of Preakness wins (eight). To do so, Imagination will need a career-best effort against the toughest field he has ever faced…  See full profile.

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